VILNIUS - The young, extravagant Lithuanian group Milky Lasers can be found playing in fashionable clubs across Germany. Recently, the band's popularity has sent fans across the world scrambling for their new album "Voyage." High profile producers, having taken the band under their wing, are convinced that with a bit more time and experience, the Milky Lasers will become an international success story. Yes, life is good. But had the members of the Milky Lasers been told a couple years ago that this would be their fate, none of them would have believed it.
De-Phazz, another German group that skilfully blends electronic music with instrumentals and vocals, is popular among lounge music listeners world-wide. Even music fans that don't follow electronica have no doubt heard De-Phazz in advertisements, most notably for Motorola. De-Phazz musicians Pit Baumgartner and Haluk Peters founded Phazz-a-delic New Format Recording in 2001 to enable themselves and new talents to create, publish and release sophisticated and extraordinary projects. Baumgartner says that Phazz-a-delic took an interest in the music of the Milky Lasers because it was so close to early De Phazz work 's smooth electro-jazz.
Since the Milky Lasers, whose members have changed over time, met Phazz-a-delic producer Pit Baumgartner at an international festival in Vilnius last year, the band seems to have turned a new page. What started three years ago as a group of friends from Vilnius hoping to make their musical dreams come true, has become a band with a famous music label in Germany, Internet record sales and a tour schedule. And the Milky Lasers is paving the way for other Lithuanian bands to be heard in Europe.
After producing the band, Phazz-a-delic turned its attention to the Baltic states. The group is currently working on compiling a Lithuanian sampler that features local creative talents as well as music veterans.
As the rule goes, pioneers must continue paving the way. Begun as a project experimenting with the interaction of sounds, phrases, and acoustic emotions, the Milky Lasers take their success with a grain of salt. Even with mass popularity just over the horizon, the band continues to experiment - with no idea how their style will evolve in the future.
Their music can be described as electronic-punk-jazz-rock, full of 80s and 90s - a combination of styles with songs that are divided into milky soft jazz and laser sharp electro-punk. Led by their desire to experiment with new sounds, Milky Lasers' music exudes fun and pleasure, and the band's raw edge is just part of their appeal.
"They have a very fresh, unconventional and almost naive way of working with their electronic equipment," says Pit Baumgartner.
The Milky Lasers are a dynamic group. The leader of the band, Andrius Sarapovas says: "Ideally, I would like different musicians and singers for every song to add as much contrast as possible."
He confides that the band is open to all styles and, thus, the experiment is an ongoing process. And their German counterparts agree.
"The Milkys have a lot of creativity, energy, skills, intelligence, sensitivity and humor. It might sound like a cliche, but they are all about music," reports a Phazz-a-delic member.
Becoming famous is a lot of work, and the dedication is a challenge for this young group. Rumors have flown about local producers who said that Milky Lasers was demanding and difficult to work with.
"We are totally undisciplined," admits Sarapovas. "But we have managed to record all the songs on time."
It seems that laughter is a remedy for most of their problems in the studio. Phazz-a-delic sees only one major difficulty at the moment. With the Milky Lasers living in Lithuania, it's a challenge to meet regularly with producers. This, however, is not enough of a barrier to dissuade the lounge music giants from supporting the up-and-coming group. And the future looks bright.
Phazz-a-delic reveals that a large auto company in Germany has decided to use a Milky Laser song for a project, and that the band is currently negotiating a concert tour in Germany. Thanks to Warner Music, the band's album "Voyage" is being sold on the Internet. Every day, new possibilities spring up for the band and despite Phazz-a-delic's efforts to avoid a quick rise to fame, success seems to be just around the corner for the Milky Lasers.
But despite European-wide popularity, the band is still almost unknown in Lithuania. With only a small circle of local fans, radio stations at home aren't spinning their songs and "Voyage" has yet to appear on the shelves in Lithuanian record shops.
"You won't be a prophet in your own land," says vocalist Giedre Kilciauskiene, laughing about their inability to tap the local market.
High album prices may be the problem. The band admits that they are trying to negotiate with distributors to lower the price for the Lithuanian market. But, not surprisingly, this is a difficult path.
"We understand that not many people in Lithuania will buy the album for the price as it is now." Sarapovas admits, offering a solution "For those who desire our album, we can suggest buying it from the Internet."
And so the path to fame goes for one group of Lithuanian hopefuls. Where this path will take them 's Germany, Italy, Japan, perhaps finally back home to fans in Lithuania - will be determined by some of the best in the industry. o